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Review: ‘The Legend of Wonder Woman’ #1

Legend of Wonder Woman 1

The Legend of Wonder Woman #1
Writer: Renae De Liz
Artists: Renae De Liz and Ray Dillon
DC Comics; $3.99

DC’s digital-first Wonder Woman anthology comic Sensation Comics may have come to an end, but the publisher’s replacement for the series is a pretty perfect one: A nine-issue, digital-first series focusing on the fantastical origins of Wonder Woman, written and drawn by Renae De Liz.

De Liz is probably best known for her lushly illustrated 2010 comic book adaptation of Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn, and, like many of the best contributors to Sensation Comics, she’s an outside-the-box choice for a Wonder Woman comic…in that she’s not someone whose name shows up in the credits of DC comics month in and month out.

For The Legend of Wonder Woman, she looks to Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston for inspiration, but she also look past Marston to Marston’s own inspirations for the character in classical mythology, coming up with something that’s Marston-esque but eschews elements of his utopian, sci-fi inspired Paradise Island and replaces them with bits of myth.

In De Liz’s formulation, Queen Hippolyta is one of a band of immortal Amazons who are eventually invited by the Greek gods to join them on Themyscira, a specially-created retreat for these gods’ creatures and creations. An immortal, Hippolyta herself cannot conceive a child, but one is magically created from the sand of the island, and that is her Princess Diana.

The story jumps ahead to Diana’s early girlhood, where her mother is grooming her to be the ruler of the island, though the princess would rather learn how to fight. This is mostly because she senses a danger to the island that almost no one else can, although one suspects it might also have something to do with the fact that combat training looks like a lot more fun than having her hair done by her mom and talking isolationist politics.

By the end of the first issue, it should come as no surprise, we learn that Diana’s suspicions were in fact correct, and she is set to begin training how to fight–in secret.

The background story creates a new version of Themyscira/Paradise Island that is quite familiar but also fresh; whether this is your very first Wonder Woman story or your fifty-first Wonder Woman story, you should be able to recognize the place and its culture. It is, after all, built out of the familiar materials that have informed fantasy literature for about as long as there has been literature. In this early part of the story, at least, De Liz accentuates the mythology aspects of Wonder Woman; it will be interesting to see if she will continue to do so throughout the series, and how Diana’s eventual, inevitable blossoming into a full-fledged all-American superhero squares with this take.

De Liz’s art, inked and colored by her husband and frequent collaborator Ray Dillon, has a cool, American shojo look in its character design, but the fully realized, fully rendered backgrounds suggest the sorts of illustrations more commonly associated with picture books. In other words, this comic not only doesn’t look anything at all like the current Wonder Woman comic book, it doesn’t look much like any other comics on the stands these days–and in a good way.

It’s always difficult to judge a comic as a whole by its first issue, so I suppose we shouldn’t attempt to do so. But judged on its own, this single issue is a gift to Wonder Woman fans of all ages, and, more exciting still, i seems like the exact sort of comic that will convert readers into fans, regardless of what they might have thought of the character and concept before reading De Liz’s version.

Variant cover by Dustin Nguyen

Variant cover by Dustin Nguyen

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J. Caleb Mozzocco About J. Caleb Mozzocco

J. Caleb Mozzocco is a way-too-busy freelance writer who has written about comics for online and print venues for a rather long time now. He currently contributes to Comic Book Resources' Robot 6 blog and ComicsAlliance, and maintains his own daily-ish blog at EveryDayIsLikeWednesday.blogspot.com. He lives in northeast Ohio, where he works as a circulation clerk at a public library by day.

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